The Arden Shakespeare Miscellany

I was lucky enough today to be given a copy of The Arden Shakespeare Miscellany.  Jane Armstrong writes with vivacity and warmth, providing the reader with a comprehensive overview of the major aspects of Shakespeare’s life and works. She covers everything from extant portraits to Shakespeare’s language. With sections on Authorship, Theatres and Players, Shakespeare The Writer, and Facts and Figures, as well as an overview of each play, The Arden Shakespeare Miscellany is a welcome addition to the bookshelves of Shakespeare enthusiasts, scholars, and actors alike.

A few sample snippets from the book

Nasty Deaths

Eaten by a Bear – Antigonus, The Winter’s Tale
Drowned in a Malmsey-Butt – The Duke of Clarence, Richard III
Burned at the Stake – Joan Puzel (Joan of Arc), I Henry VI
Killed and  Served to their Mother in a Pie – Chiron & Demetrius, Titus Andronicus
Asphyxiated by her Husband – Desdemona, Othello
Betrayed by a Friend – Julius Caesar & Rosencrantz and Guildenstern
Stabbed through a Curtain – Polonius, Hamlet
Onstage Murder of a Child –  Prince Edward, 3 Henry VI, and Lady Macduff’s Son, Macbeth

Words Coined by Shakespeare

Accessible, acutely, assembled, barefaced, beguiling, bewitchment, cloud-capped, even-handed, foul-mouthed, footfall, Frenchwoman, hot-blooded, insulting, hunchbacked, laughable, leap-frog, marriage-bed, moonbeam, neglected, overpower, promising, published, radiance, revealing, rose-cheeked, satisfying, schooldays, silliness, suffocating, three-legged, useful, well-behaved.

Longest Plays

Hamlet (29, 551 words)
Richard III (28, 309 words)
Cymbeline (26, 778 words)
Coriolanus (26, 579 words)
Othello (25, 887 words)

Vows in Shakespeare

‘Tis not the many oaths that make,
But the plain single vow that is vowed true.
All’s Well That Ends Well (4.2.21-2)

I do love you more than word can wield the matter,
Dearer than eyesight, space and liberty.
King Lear 1.1.55-6

I swear to thee by Cupid’s strongest bow,
By his best arrow with the golden head,
By the simplicity of Venus’ doves,
By that which knitteth souls and prospers loves.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream 1.1.169-72

My bounty is as boundless as the sea,
My love as deep: the more I give to thee
The more I have, for both are infinite.
Romeo and Juliet 2.2.133-5

© Jane Armstrong 2011

You can purchase a copy of The Arden Shakespeare Miscellany here

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